Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team had a less than impressive qualifying session. In recent races, the team has dominated but couldn’t replicate that at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas will be starting from third but feels as if he had the pace to get pole. The dying stages of Q3 were marred when Polesitter Charles Leclerc crashed his car at the swimming pool chicane, causing a red flag and subsequently, the end of qualifying. Most of the top ten was on a flying lap when the incident happened.
Bottas’ flying lap was already an improvement on his previous lap and was left disappointed that he couldn’t complete it.
Bottas said: “On Thursday and even in practice this morning, I didn’t have the greatest feeling in the car – we were still struggling with the tyre warm-up and mechanically, the car just isn’t made for tracks like this. But I think we maximised everything set-up wise for Quali, we made some changes and I felt comfortable.
“As qualifying progressed, I saw that we had a chance for pole position so it’s a shame I never got to finish the last run – I guess we’ll never find out if it was enough but it was a good lap up until the red flag, I was a tenth or two up.
“It is great to see many teams out there competing at the front, it’s exciting and we are all pushing so much on the track, trying to make every small gain we can. I am sure tomorrow will be a tight battle.”
“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board” – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is starting in seventh, an unusual position for the current world champion to be in. Hamilton had been struggling on the Monte Carlo track all weekend and couldn’t find the right harmony with his car. HIs Q3 lap was nearly a second down on that of Leclerc’s.
At a track where the starting position is important, it doesn’t look as if Hamilton will be able to cut through the grid to get himself on a podium.
“The car didn’t feel too bad on Thursday but we made some changes and it felt terrible today, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. From my point of view, I just had such a lack of grip out there, which then leads you to try to overdrive and start pushing to get more from it but to no end – it just doesn’t improve,” stated Hamilton.
“So overall, a difficult day. Obviously Valtteri was able to get something out of the car but we have definitely had some problems today.
“It’s almost impossible to overtake here and from where we are, that’s pretty much the case when everyone is running at the same speed. Saturday really is the day. I guess the minimum would be, hopefully, seventh and then we have got to try and somehow see if we can move forwards.”